“Hurricane aftermath threatens to unleash Florida election chaos”

Mark Caputo for Politico:

As tens of thousands of voters in Florida’s storm-tossed Panhandle try to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Michael, their communities are grappling with yet another problem — an election season thrown into disarray.

With power out in many areas and phone lines down, it’s still not clear how many voters across the state have been affected. Nor is it clear which voter precincts were damaged, or what exactly the state should do to make voting easier for survivors and the displaced.

Then there are the more crass political considerations. The state’s Senate and gubernatorial races are virtually tied at the moment — and 8 of the 11 counties without power, an area affecting 135,000 customers, are Republican-performing counties….

Scott’s office won’t say what his plans are in regards to delaying the general election, but he’s expected to issue an emergency order as early as Wednesday morning concerning early and absentee-ballot voting at the request of elections supervisors in Florida’s hardest-hit counties.

Complicating matters, the hurricane struck just as vote-by-mail absentee voting got under way. So far, about 453,000 people statewide had already voted by Tuesday morning, only 4,100 of which were in the 11 affected counties. More issues surfaced: Did any ballots get lost in the mail? When will mail service resume?

Okaloosa County Elections Supervisor Paul Lux, chair of Florida’s elections supervisors’ association, asked the state Sunday to consider several major alterations: “mega-precincts” where any county voter can drop off a ballot because precincts have been destroyed; a process to allow people without ID to cast regular ballots if provisional ballots are in short supply; aid to help evacuated nursing home residents vote by absentee ballot; ideas to figure out how to deliver absentee ballots from one county to the next if mail service is down; consideration of whether to allow overseas voters to cast absentee ballots via email.

Scott is expected to issue an emergency order tomorrow in response to Lux’s recommendations.

Seems like a no brainer. People should not be disenfranchised because they could not vote through no fault of their own.


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